M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Pacific Northwest Leader Brings 25 Years’ Experience in Business, Innovation, and Nonprofit to Foundation

March 2, 2022 (Vancouver, WA) – The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust announced today that Romanita Hairston will join the private foundation as its fifth CEO and executive director.    

“We could not be more pleased with or grateful for this outcome,” said Jeff Pinneo, trustee, Murdock Trust. “Romanita brings a robust leadership profile that is uniquely suited to the mission and work of the Murdock Trust. As a longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest and someone who has devoted more than 25 years of her life to roles that serve the common good of the community, she will be a tremendous asset to the future of the Murdock Trust and to those we partner with and support.”

Hairston was offered and accepted the role following a national search conducted by CarterBaldwin that engaged hundreds of candidates from across the nonprofit and for-profit spectrum. It was her unique collection of experience providing leadership in the nonprofit (World Vision), for-profit (Microsoft), and philanthropic (Murdock Trust) sectors, coupled with deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, that elevated Hairston as the ideal candidate to lead the Murdock Trust into the next decade.

“Romanita has an excellent background to assume this role, bringing a rich understanding of the Murdock Trust, our mission, and our values, and also a deep understanding of the challenges and needs of the organizations with which we partner and serve,” said Jeff Grubb, trustee, Murdock Trust. “She is a proven team builder who values bringing diverse voices to the table to work through challenging issues in ways that serve the common good. We are thrilled that she will be joining our leadership team and helping guide our work.”

Hairston will officially join the Murdock Trust in July 2022.

“I am honored and grateful to join the outstanding team that works every day to advance Jack Murdock’s vision of innovative and capacity building service that nurtures and enriches lives in the Pacific Northwest,” said Hairston. “Having observed and worked for and with the Murdock Trust for many years, I know it to be a unique institution dedicated to serving the common good. I look forward to partnering with nonprofit and business leaders, community foundation colleagues, and civic leaders who are all working to help ensure that individuals, families, and communities throughout our region flourish.”

Continuing a Legacy

Founded by the estate of Melvin J. “Jack” Murdock, the Murdock Trust is one of the largest private foundations in the Pacific Northwest. The organization continues the legacy of Jack Murdock, co-founder of Tektronix, who sought to enrich the social, cultural, spiritual, and educational fabric of the Pacific Northwest in innovative and sustainable ways.

When she takes office in July 2022, Hairston will be the fifth executive to lead the charitable trust since it opened in 1975. The current CEO and executive director, Steve Moore, will continue to serve in the leadership role until Hairston joins the foundation in July. In June 2021, Moore announced his plans to retire from the Murdock Trust after 16 years of service.

“Jack Murdock was a thoughtful leader who believed in building the capacity of people and organizations so that they could help others thrive,” said John Castles, trustee, Murdock Trust. “We have worked to continue that legacy through the work of the Murdock Trust, and we have been fortunate to have outstanding leaders, like Steve Moore, at the forefront of those efforts. We know that Romanita will continue this great tradition, guiding the work of the Murdock Trust into the future.”

A Career of Excellence

A graduate of the University of Washington, Hairston began her career in the nonprofit sector at World Vision, the largest child-focused private charity in the world. Over 20 years, Hairston gained a deep understanding of nonprofit service, management, and leadership as she held a variety of roles, including a decade as vice president of US programs.

In 2016 she entered the philanthropic sector, joining the Murdock Trust as a program director. During her tenure, Hairston walked alongside dozens of nonprofit leaders as they pursued capacity building grants with the charitable trust. In addition, Hairston collaborated with Murdock Trust staff, partners, and community organizations to develop enrichment programs and convenings designed to serve the diverse needs of the Pacific Northwest.

Hairston would move to the for-profit sector and join Microsoft in 2018, where she focused on the future of work and learning. In her role, she led a global skilling effort  focused on improving employability in higher education through technical skilling and workforce partnerships. In her current role as the leader of the technical content portfolio team, Hairston works to build capacity across Microsoft’s solution areas for its global customer, partner, and future generation audiences. 

Hairston earned an MBA in global development and nonprofit management from Eastern University in Philadelphia and is the founder of MORE320, a nonprofit consulting company supporting organizations as they seek to effect social change. An active volunteer, Hairston currently serves as the board president for Global Women, board vice president for India Partners, and a trustee of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. She sits on the boards of Urban Alliance, Urban Impact, and Impact Latin America and volunteers with Convergence Center for Policy Resolution. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Seattle. She has served on the board of Kids In Need Foundation and Renaissance Leadership Group.

For More Information

Further details regarding the Murdock Trust CEO transition will be made available in the coming weeks. For additional questions or resources, such as photos, please contact Colby Reade – colbyr@murdocktrust.org.

About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The Murdock Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 7,800 grants totaling more than $1.2 billion. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and on our website.


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